Two Great Articles to Read

Here’s an article that proposes five possible reasons for why you might still be single. It’s non-threatening even though it’s challenging stuff.

Here’s another article entitled “Dump Your Dream Girl” about letting go of your unattainable expectations for your future spouse.  Extremely well-written, thought-provoking, and also non-threatening.

There’s a lot of garbage out there that points fingers at you for being the reason you’re still single but I like the way these two authors dealt with heavy subjects with such grace.

 

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When We Feel Empty

It wasn’t even a full three days since I posted “Singleness is NOT a Punishment!” when my dear, sweet friend sent me this through Facebook message:

princess_warrior

If you have ever seen this or something like this, I want to just help erase any of the damage that it may have done to your heart.

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First of all, who else saw Xena the Warrior Princess when you first starting reading that? Ha! But I digress. Let’s respond to the letter from the anonymous internet person to the Princess Warrior. (Which is supposed to be a letter from God the Father to me, His beloved daughter.)

First of all, I look nothing like sexy Xena the Warrior Princess nor do I feel like her, even though I do know I am a daughter of the King and in His army.  Second of all, I would have to honestly say that, for the most part, I desire the approval of God alone. When I was young I sought the approval of my parents and my teachers and now that I’m an adult I seek the approval of my boss. There is a certain crush of mine who I highly admire and respect and from time to time I will find myself desiring his approval but it’s only because I hold him in such high regard. I don’t think validation should come from anywhere but from above as we are complete in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9-10) but I don’t think the desire to feel accepted and supported is wrong. In fact, that’s not only normal but God designed it that way. Allow me to explain:

The letter goes on to say, “I designed you to desire Me and Me alone.”

I challenge you to find a passage in the Bible that says that. You will be hard-pressed to find such a verse because I guarentee it is not there.

Have you ever been in a crowded room, yet felt completely isolated? It’s not a good feeling at all, is it? Loneliness has never been part of God’s plan for his children. After all, in the beginning when God created the Heavens, the earth, the water, trees, flowers, birds, fish, and animals, He looked over each day of creation and declared it to be good. However, upon creating man, God stopped and for the very first time declared something as “not good.” He said, “It is NOT GOOD that man should be alone.”

Adam had God by his side and yet God still said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Not until after God created Eve did God say, “…and it was VERY good.” All this is to say that we need each other and to deny that is to deny God’s design. Yes, we were designed to desire God, but He also designed us to yearn for a helpmate in life. We are sexual beings and our bodies are naturally created with a longing to be intimate and to be fruitful and multiply. Is it a sin that we desire these things? NO!

Some Christians might tell you that desiring sex is a sin but that is not biblical. The distinction comes from the OBJECT of our desire. If our desires are fixating on something evil (i.e. adultery, fornication, etc) then the desire itself is evil (Matthew 5:28, Matthew 15:19, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20). If our desire fixates on something good (i.e. marriage, companionship) then the desire itself is good (Proverbs 5:18-19, Song of Solomon 2:5-7, Proverbs 18:22, Ephesians 5:28). Sexual desire is wholesome, honorable, and right when it is enjoyed within the boundaries of holy matrimony.

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” -Philippians 4:8

We have become a generation with a distorted view of marriage.  When we try to convince singles that we shouldn’t desire sexual intimacy or that longing for marriage is somehow unholy then we are giving Satan the credit for God’s beautiful design.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Psalm 37:4 is NOT an equation.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. -Psalm 37:4

If Psalm 37:4 were an equation, then I’m pretty sure I would have a husband and children by now. Don’t believe for one second that if you’re still waiting on the Lord for this blessing that you must not be doing something you’re supposed to be doing.  Though it certainly feels like a curse, singleness is very much a blessing.  I know that it hurts, especially when you’re lying awake at night in your empty bed with nothing but pillows to squeeze for comfort.

Now let’s take a look at another passage in the letter:

“When you choose to live for Me, you will never again be thirsty for attention…”

Is that really true? What kind of a message does that send to people who struggle with depression? With aching emptiness and longing? With grief and loss associated with divorce? Just because we’ve given our lives to Jesus and chosen to live for Him doesn’t mean that we don’t still struggle with the pain of an empty womb or the longing to share our lives with a companion by our side. Telling a woman that she’ll never thirst for attention if she chooses to live for God… Do you see how that could be detrimental to her spirit? “Oh, I am still thirsty for love and affection…” She thinks. “I must not be fully living for God.” 

In the wise words of one of my favorite authors Alyssa Joy Bethke: “God is good and everything that happens is for our good. Not necessarily for our happiness but for our holiness. God’s goal is to make us more like His son, and often that involves trials and pain. But those difficulties are opportunities to rely on our Savior, to run into His arms, to nestle ourselves in His embrace and to walk with Him.”

Emptiness is that feeling left over after you give something your absolute all and it still doesn’t turn out the way you worked so hard for it to. You’re exhausted of energy, depleated of hope, and disappointed that it didn’t work out. Perhaps you have some unfulfilled dreams or a place in your heart that aches because your beloved didn’t return your love. Perhaps, like me, you fought hard to save your marriage and did everything possible to redeem it but it still fell apart in your hands.

God’s Word offers some promises to combat the emptiness and find fulfillment in Christ.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” – Psalm 81:10

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

“I ask God from the wealth of His glory to give you power through His Spirit to be strong in your inner selves,  and I pray that Christ will make His home in your hearts through faith as you open the door and invite Him in.  I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes, may you come to know the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love—although it can never be fully known—and be so completely filled with the very nature of God.” -Ephesians 3:16-19

Just because we’ve completely given our lives to God doesn’t mean the longings He’s plsb10065339i-001aced there will completely go away. I believe they are from Him and they aren’t sinful. I mean, not all of us are called to be nuns!!! On the plane home from my sister’s wedding last weeekend I saw a nun. I immediately was drawn to her because of her calm, elegant beauty and of course the curiousity of what made her decide to live under the vows of poverty and chastity but especially the latter. Perhaps she doesn’t have those desires? I can’t imagine not having those desires. If she DOES have those desires then I applaud her for her strength and uncompromising commitment to purity.  She is SO KICK-BUTT! Wish I would have had the courage to ask her my questions. Again, I digress.

It’s healthy to recognize that sometimes the longings we feel aren’t for anything Earth can provide. Psalmist cries out to God, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1). Just like the Samaritan woman at the well who thirsted for Living Water, God put a longing in our heart that was intended to lead us back to Him. There is an emptiness that ONLY HE can fill. There is a deep thirst that ONLY HE can quench. If His love doesn’t fill you up, then nothing else will.

“Now let me ask you again, My beloved daughter: Whom do you seek?”

If you’re like me, you’re COMPLETELY honest with yourself and if your desires are the same as mine then you’re seeking a husband. The Bible says, But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” -Matthew 6:33. It never says it’s wrong to seek a husband, but make sure God is first in your heart.

As for me, I’m allowing God to use this loneliness and emptiness to teach me what it means to depend upon His strength and love every day. I know that having a husband won’t satisfy the craving that only God can fill. When you allow yourself to be controlled by Christ’s love you have the indwelling of God’s presence and are closer to unity and maturity. I don’t think we can ever experience the whole measure of the perfection that is found in Christ (Ephesians 4:13) this side of Heaven, but I do believe we can experience joy and fullness here on Earth. I pray this for us both, dear reader, that we would be filled with His love and be content in our single season.

Singleness is NOT a Punishment!

From time to time you may hear an oft repeated adage that “You need to let God fulfill the desires of your heart before He will bring someone into your life to love.” I wanted to encourage you lest you begin to believe that somehow you must not be loving God enough: being content in your circumstances and placing God first in your life doesn’t necessarily imply that God will bring you your future spouse; it’s not an equation. One does not inevitably follow the other in sequence. So please don’t worry that because you’re single that you must be doing something wrong. Believing this misinformation will only bring shame and feelings of inadequacy.

Well-meaning friends and family have all kinds of explanations and advice for why we are still single. I can hear the echoes in my head now: “Perhaps God is teaching you to rest in His promises and fully rely on His provision” or “Perhaps He is teaching you to completely surrender.” Perhaps those things are true but God isn’t punishing you by withholding a good thing because you aren’t yet “good enough” for the blessing.

Regardless of the reason I find myself alone, I know one thing is true: God is drawing me closer to Him and realigning my thinking about Him. One of things I’ve been learning is that I have been trying so hard to please Him when He is already well-pleased with me. Yes! If you have the blood of the Lamb covering your sins, God only sees absolute perfection when He gazes upon you, His beloved. In Hosea 2:19 He says to us, “I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.” Like the twitterpated, smitten Prince in a fairy tale sweeps in to win the heart of his beloved, we too are pursued by our Lord who desires us and cherishes us deeply.

A friend told me recently, “Stop trying to make God proud.” At first that didn’t make much sense to me but I have since come to understand what he meant. Since childhood, I’ve endeavored to make my life a fragrant aroma to my King. We are called to be a living sacrifice to God so biblically this isn’t a wrong mindset but how often are we striving to serve God with the things that we DO? Proverbs 19:21 reminds us that “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Instead of running to and fro doing this and that for the kingdom, what if we stopped and simply just enjoyed being WITH God in quiet stillness? Remember the story of Mary and Martha? Martha was busy scrambling around the house getting food prepared to serve Jesus while Mary was sprawled out comfortably at His feet soaking up His company.

mary-or-martha

There’s nothing wrong with doing good things for God, as long as whatever you do, you do with all your heart as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). John 15:4 reminds us that we can’t bear fruit unless we are connected to the vine. All of our righteous deeds are useless unless they are done with the correct heart attitude. When we are abiding in Jesus Christ, all the hope, peace, joy, love, and guidance we need flows directly from Him.

So thank you, sweet reader, for joining me on this journey I find myself in. I know it can sometimes feel like it but singleness is not a punishment. In fact, I find it can be a blessing in many ways. The biggest blessing so far is more time to spend with God and serving others.

The Devil is a LIAR!

April 3rd marked four years of being single. I have been officially single as long as I’ve been married. To commemorate this occasion I had to write another blog entry.

So many of my posts lately have the theme of “love yourself,” like this one here for instance.

There is something I realized about self-esteem: it’s a positive thing in theory to have confidence in your own worth but the devil loves to distort good things because he’s in the business of deception.

I apologize for being part of the problem when our culture lies to us and tells us we need to “love ourselves.”

Don’t get me wrong, we do have inherent value but it’s not because we’ve bestowed it upon ourselves. It’s not even because we’ve reminded ourselves of our intrinsic worth in God’s eyes.

If we go purely based on what God says in His Word, we are extremely precious (Matthew 6:25-34, Luke 12:6-7) because we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16)  in His image (Genesis 1:27) for a beautiful purpose (Ephesians 2:10, Jeremiah 29:11) and dearly loved by Him (Romans 5:8, Romans 8:32, John 3:16).

We can stand in the mirror all day and recite self affirmations, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” Doing this every day when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed might even give you a strong sense of being loved, but this is not the way to truly experience the fullness of God’s love.

Yes, I do love myself, maybe even so much that one might say it borders on pride. (The negative kind.) My pride was brought down a peg or two when my good friend Jamie helped me to realize that I had been listening to the devil’s lies again. See, the devil likes to attack us where we are strong. I happen to have a lot of self confidence so the devil decided to twist this and use it against me.

After a series of dates with men who are not my spiritual equal I was beginning to feel a little puffed up. (I guess I felt like it was better than feeling chronically frustrated and disappointed.) I mean, it’s hard not have your ego stroked when a guy tells you, “You are an amazing person… I consider myself Christian and live Christian values but obviously I’m not at the same level you are with your devotion.” This has happened to me countless times that it’s starting to become a theme. I’m truly grateful that they notice this and tell me right away because I’m not really good with that whole thing… it sounds pretty judgemental to say “we’re not on the same level” doesn’t it?

One day I woke up and just started feeling sorry for myself. I heard the devil say, “You’re so unique, you’re not ever going to find anyone who is compatible with you. You’re a freak anomaly… even if you did find someone as weird and quirky as you, what are the chances you’d be like-minded? I sat on the pity pot all day and thought about why I’m alone and why I’ll probably always be alone.

analyzing

Then my best friend posted this on her Facebook wall and it gave me a swift kick in the pants. I realized my “woe is me” attitude problem was a serious pride problem, too.

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The Bible says no one really hates their own body but nourishes and cherishes it (Ephesians 5:29). We are deeply sensitive to our own needs and feelings and constantly aware of how other people affect us. The reason we are so easily hurt is because we want to be accepted and treated with respect and admiration. If we didn’t care about ourselves then we wouldn’t care if people rejected, neglected, and abused us. No, we do not need to love ourselves… that is an innate, natural thing to do. What we really need to do is DENY OURSELVES. 

Jesus said that “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). He also said if you are unwilling to do this then you are not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:28).

Our problem is not that we have poor self-image… it’s that we have a poor image of who God is. Our need is not to love ourselves more but to accept His incredible love for us. We need to give up any idea of what we think we’re here on Earth to do and submit to His plan for our lives. When we abide in His love then we stop focusing on ourselves and instead we begin to shower His love on others instinctively.

I believe it is our pride and selfishness that keeps us from having an intimate relationship with God. Jesus said these chilling words in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.'” 

I say these things because I feel compelled to. I know I won’t be Miss Popular for saying this but the Christian life is not easy. Many people choose the highway to Hell but the gateway to life is very narrow and only a few ever find it (Matthew 7:14).

“As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.” (Galatians 6:14)

My prayer for you all who have stuck it out and are still reading this blog entry (thank you, btw) is that you would know how truly, madly, deeply loved you are. Only with the correct view of God’s love will you ever begin to even scratch the surface in understanding how precious you are. I pray you will know that you are worthy of great love and that you wouldn’t be afraid to open your heart to receive it. No one is really afraid of love… people are afraid of rejection, betrayal, and abandonment. But in Christ there is only complete acceptance and faithfulness. I pray you would have confidence in God’s love. He will never let you down and He will never leave you. There is no want to those who trust Him and those who seek Him will lack no good thing. Taste and see that the LORD is good! (Psalm 34:8-10) Not only is He good, but He is ready to forgive and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Him. (Psalm 86:5)

“But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know Me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 9:24)

Why I’m Still Single

Don’t you hate it when guys say, “You’re amazing, BUT…” Oh that dreaded word “but” you always know he’s going to tack on at the end of that sentence. It’s so frustrating, right? Because if I’m so amazing then why the heck am I still single?

Do you ever catch yourself thinking, “If only I were ____fill-in-the-blank___, then I wouldn’t be single?”

STOP IT.

There isn’t anything wrong with you.

The truth is, you could probably easily find someone right now to date… but you have high standards. You know the kind of person you’re looking for and you’re not going to settle. Don’t let the devil eat away at your self-esteem by making you believe you’re somehow “less than.” You know God desires someone for you who is your equal counterpart. Anyone who isn’t complementary is not appriopriate and is outside of His Divine will. (Genesis 2:18)

Relationships require a little bit of sacrifice and compromise but not so much that you no longer feel like the person God made you to be and certainly not any compromise that would build a wall between you and God.

If ever you start feeling discouraged about who, how, where, but mostly WHEN you’ll meet your future hubby or wifey, just remind yourself of these three things:

 

God is faithful. 

He has always been faithful in the past and He will be faithful to answer your prayers concerning a spouse.

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. –Psalm 100:5

God is not finished with you.

God will never leave you for long without direction. He will comfort and renew you and guide you where He wants you to go. Stay faithful to the Lord even when you feel like settling. Trust that He’s working all things together for good. When you are running low on strength and it’s newborn baby season on your Facebook feed and you feel tempted to give up waiting, ask God for extra perseverance and for peace. I can’t promise that there is someone right around the corner for you but I can promise you that waiting for the right one is worth the wait and settling will only lead to heartache and regret. Keep obeying God for obedience’s sake out of love for God, not because obeying Him will result in blessings.

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. –Hebrews 10:35-36

You’re a freaking unicorn.

That’s right, you heard me!

Because you’re made in the image of God, you have a beautiful purpose for your life, and you are dearly loved by the Creator of the Universe who sent His son to wash your sins clean and made you pure white as snow.

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Over Overthinking

If you’re anything like me, you tend to overanalyze every little detail, emotion, and possible connection.

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It’s exhausting and unnecessary, but it’s also a sin. Yup. Overthinking is just the polite, grown-up way of saying “worrying.”

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

Worrying keeps up from experiencing the full life of joy God has planned for us because we’re too busy overanalyzing all the minutiae.  Worrying just keeps us busy doing a lot of nothing. This distraction is a tool of the enemy to keep us from our God-given purpose.

worrying-is-like-a-rocking-chair

There’s nothing wrong with questioning the status quo but we need to remind ourselves of the truth, which will set us free.  If you feel anxious or upset due to racing thoughts, you know they are not from the Lord beause He is a God of peace.  There is no fear in love.

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Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)

You gave me feelings I never knew
And I don’t know why
What should I do?
What should I say?
Why’s this bothering me?

Mixed Signals 

He likes me. I think. I’m almost certain. There were all these SIGNS. 
Do you find yourself questioning your sanity as you play Sherlock Holmes piecing together all the clues that point to the ultimate conclusion that he does, in fact, like you? Yup. We’ve all done it. We want it SO BAD that our feelings blind us to the truth that he is just not that interested romantically.
You should hear what he says to me!
♥  When someone we greatly admire says certain words to us or performs kind gestures for us we twist it in our mind to mean more than it means.  
♥ It’s so easy to see what we want to see when we want to see it bad enough.
Oh, but he DOES like me!!! It’s so obvious. 
♥ Perhaps he does. But it’s not a romantic kind of love if he isn’t making his intentions clear. He might, indeed, be interested in you… as a friend.
He TOLD ME he likes me. Why won’t he commit? 
♥ Indecision is a decision. If he isn’t taking action, he’s still pondering his other possibilities or he’s simply not ready for a commitment.
♥ Romantic interest sprouts easily… maturity takes time to grow and blossom.
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Do you know why he likes you? Cuz you’re freaking awesome, that’s why. Who wouldn’t like you!? But if he isn’t mature enough to pursue you romantically, let him go. There’s no sense in wasting time wondering why he won’t commit. Don’t let it distract you from what you need to be doing. Keep on keeping on. You need to guard your heart and protect it from getting entangled with the wrong person. And yes, he IS the wrong person if he’s not willing to commit. Don’t deceive yourself by misinterpretting his signals. Protect your heart. If a man truly loves you, he will go after your heart with all that is within his being.
hoperingmeme 
Put your hope and trust in a man, and he will hurt you. But place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ and you can rest securely in His unfailing love. His love will never disappoint and never betray you.  When you find your worth in His love, you will gain a deeper knowledge of who you really are… you are His… beloved and cherished. Abiding in His love equips you to become who you truly are and to embrace that identity. 
Human love can bring joy and happiness but God’s love is the most fulfilling love in the world. Talk to God. Give Him your concerns and He’ll give you peace. 

You Can’t Hurry Love

The Supremes famously sang:

You can’t hurry love
No, you just have to wait
You gotta trust, give it time
No matter how long it takes

I have the most amazing friends in the world who patiently listen to my rants about online dating. They helped me to see that whenever I determined someone wasn’t a good fit for me, I immediately went back to my messages to see what other fine specimens were out there. I’ve become this type A go-getter that won’t seem to rest until I find my true love.

What a thrill to have a whole world of singles at your fingertips! What fun to meet a different handsome man every week! But I realized that I’ve been rushing furiously from one to the next without really doing much else inbetween.

I haven’t been lacking in dates but the truth is that there hasn’t been a solid match in the 99th percentile of compatibility in the local area in a few months. Maybe I’m just staving off loneliness rather than actually trying to find someone who is compatible with me? Why else do I agree to meet men who I am pretty sure aren’t right for me with the hopes that “Well, maybe I’m wrong, you gotta meet them to make sure?”

Today at church this verse hit me hard:

“Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and striving after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

Romans 12:3 tells me to “Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves” so I decided to do some serious soul-searching. I have been opressing myself by going through this rigmarole of date after date instead of trusting the Author of my love story. He does not put pressure on me to find my future husband myself but asks me to trudge my weary legs to Him and lay this burden at His feet.
img_2577I haven’t looked at my online dating app in several days and I’ve felt more tranquil than I have in weeks. If I trust God for my salvation then surely I can trust Him to provide a life companion.

My friend Jonathan told me something yesterday that has stuck with me:

“Passion without discipline will kill you.”
-Jonathan Bass